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Video Game / Grabbed by the Ghoulies

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An Action-Adventure game by Rare Ltd., released for the Xbox in 2003 after a pre-release conversion from its original design for the Nintendo GameCube. Starring Cooper, a frightened but brave teenager whose girlfriend Amber is quite literally "grabbed by the ghoulies," yanked from Cooper's side by a pair of gargoyles and taken into Ghoulhaven Hall, a Haunted House along a road the duo wandered down after making a wrong turn. Half the game is spent trying to rescue Amber, the other half is spent trying to get to the master bedroom of airplane-obsessed Baron Von Ghoul so you can give him a thorough beating and steal the key to the front door.

Humorous and entertaining, but highly unsuccessful sales-wise. The game's lack of commercial success is repeatedly referenced for laughs in later Rare titles, such as Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.

Despite its lackluster initial sales, the game has been re-released as a download from the Xbox Live Arcade, where it currently holds a rating of just over 3/5 stars based on 2,000+ votes, showing that it has gained at least modest popularity.

In 2015, the game was re-released in the compilation Rare Replay on the Xbox One; unlike the 29 other games on the compilation which were all brought back by either emulation or the Xbox One's Xbox 360 backwards compatibility feature, Grabbed by the Ghoulies was reprogrammed for the Xbox One as a HD remaster due to the absolutely (ahem) ghoulish difficulty of Xbox OG emulation.note 

This game provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Vampires seems to like Cooper, judging from their other attack, and Ghoulie Amber still tries to kiss Cooper.
  • Abnormal Ammo: Cooper can acquire guns that fire a stream of Holy Water (melts zombies), cloves of garlic (slays vampires), and soda cans (does a lot of explosive damage, period). He can also throw wine bottles, hamburgers, toilet paper, and flower pots as projectiles with up to six shots of each, as well as finding and using numerous other, larger single-shot throwables.
  • Accidental Misnaming: There may not be a single time in the game when Cooper says Fiddlesworth's name correctly.
  • Action Bomb: The giant worms explode themselves to damage Cooper.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: All the chapters begin with R: The Rescue, The Restoration, The Riddle, The Reckoning, the Race.
  • Ambushing Enemy: The Haunted Door looks like an ordinary door until you approach it and it attacks. Same with the paintings and chairs that come after you.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Some of the enemies include haunted chairs, TV sets, paintings, coats, and even doors.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Of the "male victim, female rapist" variety. If a Vampire grabs Cooper, she drags him into the coffin which shuts tight and begins rocking violently, while little love hearts and... unusual noises begin coming out of it. Cooper continually takes damage until he manages to force a way out.
  • Bound and Gagged: Amber, and numerous other victims of the Baron's clutches found locked up in various places throughout the mansion.
  • The Brute: Hunchbacks serves this purpose as minibosses. Though they're mostly on the defensive side, they still do a lot of damage when they hit Cooper.
  • The Butler Did It: Inverted. Crivens the helpful butler is actually an alter ego of Baron Von Ghoul.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The final bonus challenge, "Play It Again, Son." You, as Amber this time, must navigate the entire game in a single sitting, including Ma Soupswill's big heroic moment, with only 10 health. No saves, no checkpoints, but the figurative stopwatch on your time is personal challenge at best; you immediately earn a Platinum for completing the challenge.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Cooper's not above kicking enemies when they're down.
  • Conjoined Twins: Seems to be the case of the ghoulie Jessie and Clyde, who look like two ghoulies fused together.
  • Cowardly Lion: Cooper's so scared shitless that there's an entire mechanic around calming him down post-Jumpscare. He still braves a haunted house to save his girl.
  • Cyclops: Clyde is a ghoulie with one eye, though its conjoined twin Jessie has two.
  • Dem Bones: The skeletons. They seem to want to do some boxing, but their bones so easy to scatter all over the floor.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: You'll find yourself breaking a lot of obstructive and non-obstructive objects around Ghoulhaven Hall, including plenty of chairs (they make fine weapons). Especially the ones that run at you.
  • Don't Come A-Knockin': Beware the walking coffins. They contain amorous vampire girls.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: The Grim Reaper is more hard-rocker than gloom-and-doom death-bringer. How bad can a dude who air-guitars on his scythe after claiming a victim with his Touch of Death possibly be?
  • Double Entendre: The title of the game ("goolies" is British slang for testicles), and many lines spoken by the characters, particularly Fiddlesworth the groundskeeper. Some of Fiddlesworth's lines were so very risqué that they were cut from the game before release.
  • Easter Egg: Far too many to count. There are innumerable Shout Outs to Banjo-Kazooie in the decorations in the mansion, including numerous paintings of characters such as Mumbo Jumbo, Klungo, and even "Devil Bottles" from 'Tooie. There is also a whiteboard in the schoolroom with writing and symbols on it apparently giving information regarding Banjo's infamous "Stop 'n' Swop." Monstrous versions of the title characters appear as mounted heads.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The "Butler's Brew" option in the main menu comes with the desription of being for younger players or "those that are rubbish at video games".
  • Enemy Mine: The various ghoulies throughout the house don't seem to like the Reaper much more than you do, and will get into squabbles with him frequently. This comes particularly into play in the Bathroom. The challenge rules ensure that you will end up spending sixty seconds simply running away from the Grim Reaper. This is particularly difficult here as the room is very small compared to others where the Reaper can appear. However, numerous objects in the room can be broken to spill various enemies into the area... who, instead of attacking you, will swarm the Reaper, forming a wall between him and you, and proceed to beat the snot out of him, even letting him kill them as a distraction while you escape.
    • Ghoulies don't exactly like each other, either, and it's possible to get them to fight one another by getting them to accidentally hit an enemy or picking up the "Traitor Fever!" Power-Up. When enemies near them go down, however, expect them to return their attention to you.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Everything from skeletons to hunchbacks to (exploding!) earthworms to chairs to doors to television sets is out to get you.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Warlocks resemble evil wizards, and like all the other ghoulies try to attack Cooper.
  • Fake Difficulty: Your health is scrambled at the start of each room, sometimes giving you a ridiculously low level of health to start off a particularly hard boss fight that could be done easily with just a bit more health to start. Heck, some rooms give you ONE hit point to start with, then send an endless barrage of enemies your way.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Happens whenever you break a challenge rule to signify the Reaper is coming.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the first minute of the game! When the very dusty clip book for Rare is dusted off, it blows open. The first page shows the logo, and some of the game artwork for Ultimate Play The Game, the 1982-1988 precursor to Rare, which itself was retired, effectively, to become Rare Limited.
  • Friendly Enemy: Occasionally, ghoulies that will fight other ghoulies instead of the player, signified with a smiley face icon. This may happen due to story reasons (like empowering a group of skeletons to mutiny against the zombie pirate captain), freeing trapped ghoulies, using a certain powerup or simply stumbling upon a conflict already in progress. However, the "friendly" ghouly will turn on the player once no other ghoulies are present.
  • Friendly Skeleton: Mr. Ribs is a skeleton chef who doesn't try to attack Cooper at all.
  • Gasshole: Zombies, who fart almost constantly. Zombie Pirates burp with near-equal frequency. Although it's obviously done for Rule of Funny in the game, there is actually some truth to this: after death, real-life corpses will release trapped gases as they decompose, which can sometimes be similar to flatulence.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: The Hunchback is an occasional miniboss who, despite his strength and size, will constantly either run away or curl up in an attempt to cover his face (his only damagable point), and after you finish a combo on him, he will cover his face with his hands completely until you back off and give him a chance to run away again. And one challenge requires you to beat one in under a minute.
  • Giant Spider: Large orange tarantulas are among the most common enemies encountered in the mansion.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The Vampire's standard attack method consist in smacking Cooper/Amber on the head with her bat pet.
    • The Zombies can wind up their arms for an Uppercut as they move towards you. Dodge the uppercut, and the arm will detach from its socket and end up on the ground as a usable weapon.
  • The Grim Reaper: The Reaper enemies resemble the iconic depiction of Death and kill Cooper with one touch.
  • I'm Melting!: What happens to Zombies or Zombie Pirates when hit by the holy water.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Cooper, who can turn pool cues (and the pool table itself, to an extent), dumpsters, wine bottles, dinner plates, broom handles, sofas, umbrellas, toilet paper rolls, seed bags, cooking pots, televisions, phonographs, guitars, the parts of a drum set, and hamburgers into weapons, among other things...
    • The skeleton enemies can use all the same carry-able weapons as Cooper, to devastating effect if they hit you.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: Many enemies in the game have a Weaksauce Weakness in the form of a weapon that you need to use to defeat them, and are completely invincible otherwise. Certain Scenes, however, have you encounter them while you do not have the weapon that defeats them, forcing you to either avoid them, or get rid of them another way.
  • Jiggle Physics: every female character has this, Amber, Babs, Ma Soupswill, the female hostages, and even the freaking vampire women. Some have it to lesser extents than others.
  • Jump Scare: The Super Scary Shocks are Quick Time Events meant to startle Cooper (and the player).
  • Kill It with Fire: Mummies can be dealt with fire, usually by candles or by pushing them in fireplaces.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Parodied by Baron Von Ghoul when Cooper finally finds him.
    Baron Von Ghoul: Er ... wait — wrong speech!
  • Made of Explodium: The Worms explode very easily, whether intentionally or when Cooper damages them.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Enemies include sentient chairs, paintings, and even the occasional Haunted Door.
  • Meaningful Name: The game's name Grabbed by the Ghoulies means "grabbed by the balls". That idiom is usually meant to indicate a Morton's Fork, which the game gleefully does as seen in Unwinnable By Design.
  • Mini-Me: The Miniature Cooper soup powerup summons a miniature version of Cooper to temporarily help the player fight, making it literally Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: Each Ghouly type comes with a short intro when you first encounter them which is not repeated on replays.
  • Mook Maker: Haunted Televisions are walking TV sets that spawn the enemy flashing on its screen.
  • Mummy: The Ancient Mummy looks like a traditional zombified mummy while the Cursed Mummy has a more Egyptian look.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The game has Zombie Pirates.
  • Nintendo Hard: Much of the game after the tutorial levels. The enemies don't give you a break to recuperate after getting knocked down, there are too many mooks chucking things at you, you don't start with enough health to handle the current situation, some enemies can One-Hit Kill you with little to no warning ... if it's not one thing making things tougher for you, it's another.
    • Don't forget Challenge 21, which takes the difficulty of the adventure up to eleven.
  • Not So Invincible After All: You can beat the Reaper around a bit, and even stun and knock him down, but he's completely unkillable most of the time. Unless there's a window in the room to launch him out of. There's even an achievement for beating him this way in Rare Replay.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Reaper. Every time. Even to enemies that stand in his way.
    • The One Hit Wonder Powerup lets Cooper do this to any enemy normally damageable by any of his attacks for a short time.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: A bad power-up can turn Cooper into this briefly. And other times he doesn't even need the power-up — he's just given one hit point to begin with in some rooms.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Most of the Ghoulies, if not all, are stated to be creations of Dr. Krackpot.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires in this game include Vampire Chickens and plump, pale girls hiding in movable coffins and keeping pet bats on their shoulders. Scrapped material included more, like more traditional slim vampire ladies, short vampires and an adult male vampire implied to be the Baron's right-hand man.
  • Pirate: One of the ghoulie variants are zombified pirates.
  • Poe's Law: So many people thought it was a legit attempt to be scary by Rare. In fact, IGN even said it was one of the worst Survival Horror titles ever... despite being a parody of horror movies.
  • Poison Mushroom: Several, with various effects, including reversed controls, making the player character move in slow-mo, having only 1 hit point for a brief time, and others. They appear similar to normal power-ups, but rather than one of the usual power-up icons hovering over them, they have a black ghost with an orange outline.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Nearly happens, but averted. When Cooper first encounters Mr. Ribs, he’s shown taking an egg he needs from him, leading to him chasing and attacking Mr. Ribs. He’s just about to smash him to bits when Ma shows up and reveals she sent him to bring her the egg himself. Why Mr. Ribs didn’t tell Cooper this is never explained, but he could have and stopped himself from nearly dying.
  • Press X to Not Die: The Super Scary Shock — enter a sequence of buttons shown on the screen as quickly as possible or lose 10 health (which is often enough to kill you, or make you as good as dead once the mooks show up). Failing a Super Scary Shock during a Challenge 21 play-through is instant death.
  • Punny Title: Of getting grabbed by the balls.
  • Retirony: After you kill Roger the Cabin Boy after he was attacking Fiddlesworth, an angry Zombie Pirate comes along and says, "Look what this cowardly dog's done t'Roger the Cabin Boy! 'E only 'ad two days left 'til 'is retirement!" and then summons a bunch of Ghoulies to attack you.
  • Rewarding Vandalism:
    • Breaking things reveals power-ups, weapons, and sometimes the key required to leave a room (or other secrets!). Watch out — breaking certain objects also spills Mooks into the room!
    • The bonus challenge "Smash the Study, Buddy!" asks you to do as much damage to a room in the house as you can within a short amount of time.
  • Scare Chord: Plays with each Super Scary Shock.
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends with Cooper and Amber walking off towards the village of "Ghoulsville in the Gloom" mentioned in the opening sequence, with Baron Von Ghoul sneakily following them in his biplane, seemingly setting up for another adventure. Unfortunately, given the game's disappointing sales and the inclusion of "Ghoulies II" among various joke game titles (as in, outlandish Rare sequels that will never be made) depicted in the ending sequence of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, prospects for a sequel no longer look promising.
  • Shout-Out: This game is jam-packed with Rare references, the most noticeable being Banjo and Kazooie's mounted heads as enemies in one area.
  • Stalked by the Bell: The Reaper's presence is signaled by the muting of the background music as it is replaced by an eerie wind and distant church bell.
  • Take Up My Sword: If you manage to free all the kids, Cooper gets knocked out by some imps. The player then takes control of Ma Soups will who saves Cooper by fighting off the imps. If you beat them, it goes to the game's ending cutscene.
  • Touch of Death: This is how the Reaper does you in. It has to be his outstretched finger though — merely bumping into him (or any other enemy) does nothing.
  • Trash the Set: Virtually everything in every room can be damaged in some way. However, in some rooms, doing so will cause the Reaper to show up.
  • The Unfought: Dr. Krackpot looks like he'll be a boss, especially when you enter his lab to discover him holding the final piece of the Baron's riddle. His transformation-gun explodes when Cooper plugs it with his finger, resulting in the destruction of Krackpot's robotic-leg mecha-vehicle thing that made him so intimidating. He gives up without a fight, on the condition that Cooper never mentions this incident to anyone.
  • Unwinnable by Design:
    • Some challenges are designed with deliberately paradoxical rules to ensure that the challenge WILL be lost and the Reaper WILL be unavoidably summoned before you can leave the area. (However, you are always able to leave the room once you meet certain challenge requirements — the challenge is merely arranged such that outrunning the Reaper becomes an unavoidable factor.) An example: the second time in the garbage yard, where you must defeat several haunted chairs, but the rules say you must use ONLY your fists and ONLY weapons at the same time, ensuring that if you attack at all the Reaper will come. Another one is the bathroom, where you must survive for 1:20 but the Reaper will arrive if you do not complete that challenge within 0:20, so you are guaranteed to spend a full sixty seconds simply hoping to outrun Death.
    • This is used as an actual necessary gameplay element in Dr. Krackpot's lab, where you must forcibly summon the Reaper by killing a Skeleton (the challenge rules say specifically not to kill any Skeletons), then lead him around the room until he uses his Touch of Death on a Vampire you cannot otherwise hurt (they are only vulnerable to a garlic gun you don't have in that scene) to obtain a key it was holding.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Averted, Vampire women do have strapless dresses and huge breasts, but are also quite plump and with an unhealthy pale complexion. Doesn't stop them from pursuing Cooper, as seen in their special attack.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Certain monsters can easily be killed with the proper weapon: mummies with fire, zombies with holy water and vampires with garlic.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Cooper's moves include elbow drops and dropkicks.